Tesla Unveils Its "Mind-Blowing" Semi And New Roadster, The "Fastest Production Car Ever Made"

Update 2: there were some rumors of a surprise during tonight's presentation, and Musk did not disappoint when just as the semi-introduction was ending, Tesla also unveiled a new Roadster, the new version of its original sports car. According to Musk, It’s the fastest production car ever made, with speeds of just 1.9 seconds for 0 to 60 and 4.2 seconds for 0 to 100. It can handle a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds.

“This is the base model,” Musk said, then went on to mention that its top speed is above 250 mph. and it has a 200 kWh battery pack that offers 630 miles of highway driving range.

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Update 1: this is what the new Semi truck, which Tesla will give a 1 million mile guarantee for, looks like:

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Tonight's the night!! In what has been promised to "blow your mind," Elon Musk will unveil an all-electric Class 8 semi truck.

In the works for two years, it’s a project that’s aimed squarely at cleaning up the freight industry, which accounts for one-fifth of global oil demand... and which Goldman Sachs has warned will cost 300,000 jobs per year.

As Bloomberg notes, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has promised a truck that will “out-torque any diesel semi” and drive “like a sports car.” Seeing what an all-electric semi is capable of may be the most entertaining part of the night, even if it’s not a key metric for Tesla’s trucking customers.

“If you had a tug-of-war competition,” Musk bragged at a Ted Talk in April, “the Tesla Semi will tug the diesel semi uphill.”

The show is due to start at 8pmPT, 11pmET.

If the transmission is interrupted, readers can go to Tesla’s website by clicking the image below...

Here's what to watch for - including some potential wild cards (via Bloomberg)

1. How Long Is Long Range?

The range of any electric vehicle is the critical metric—it defines how the vehicle can be used and the size of its potential market. Five years ago, few would have thought that a long-range heavy duty-truck was even possible. That’s changing fast. Daimler, the leader in Class 8 diesel trucks, recently unveiled a 220-mile range electric big rig, establishing a new bar for the industry. Long-range hauling across vast stretches of the U.S. would likely require more than 500 miles of range.

2. At What Cost?

Batteries are the single most expensive component of any electric truck, and the battery of a cross-country hauler could cost $100,000 even before you build the truck around it. The sticker price, regardless of size, is going to be higher than its diesel equivalent because of those pricey batteries.

Can Tesla keep the upfront price low enough to be offset by cheaper operating costs from fuel savings and simpler maintenance? Tesla may provide such figures, though many fleet operators will want to put them to the test with hundreds of thousands of road miles before they’ll be convinced.

Source: Bloomberg analysis

3. Platooning on Autopilot

Will the truck, expected to roll out by 2020, come with some level of autonomous driving? Tesla has been in talks with California and Nevada regulators about testing semis that can automatically follow a lead vehicle, a technique known as “platooning.” Platooning cuts fuel costs by reducing wind drag. And if the autonomous driving system is good enough to run without a driver, it could also dramatically cut labor expenses.

A teaser animation released by Tesla on Wednesday suggests the realization of one of Musk’s design aspirations: cameras instead of side door mirrors.


4. Who Are the First Customers?

The biggest players in freight are good at keeping their trucks in top driving condition and averse to messing with the supply chain. Convincing companies like Swift, Ryder, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to bring an electric drivetrain into their fleets will be a tough sell. Musk says Tesla has been gathering feedback from trucking companies throughout the development process (at least one, Ryder, confirmed it), so it would be a good sign if Tesla comes out of the gate with some early partnerships.

It could be that Musk’s own empire will be the first demonstration customer of the big rig. Tesla’s automotive reach is growing, and its SolarCity arm is the biggest rooftop solar installer in the U.S. Musk's SpaceX could potentially use the vehicles to transport rockets, satellites, capsules, and equipment.

During earlier unveilings of Tesla’s passenger cars—the Models S, X and 3—the company started taking paid reservations immediately, at least 18 months before the first deliveries. Is that a strategy that can work with commercial trucks? How long until the first rigs hit the road?

A new 40-stall Supercharger station and customer lounge opens in Kettleman, California.

Source: Tesla

5. Infrastructure Solutions

A lot of infrastructure goes into servicing big rigs. Truck stops line the world’s highways, and fleet operators stand by with mountains of replacement parts ready to fix anything that might go wrong. How does Tesla plan to deal with these hurdles? Will they introduce a whole new type of charging system, with ultrafast chargers or a robot that swaps out used batteries for fresh ones? Who will build out and operate the charging network? Who handles maintenance and roadside assistance?

6. Location, Location, Location

Tesla’s car factory in Fremont, California, is running out of room. Musk wants to build 500,000 electric passenger cars there next year, and even if he misses that goal by half, it’s very unlikely Tesla would be able to squeeze in a big rig assembly line. Tesla’s massive battery factory near Reno, Nevada, which is still under construction, seems like a more natural fit. That factory is also where Tesla makes electric motors and drivetrains—primary components for an electric semi.

7. “Driver Comfort Features”

In a profile in this week’s Rolling Stone, Musk hinted at an unspecified “driver comfort feature” that he’s fond of. “Probably no one will buy it because of this,” he said, “but if you’re going to make a product, make it beautiful.” One possibility? A sweet coffee maker. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Musk joked that the truck “can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte.”

The Model 3 motor sits in line with the wheel axle. The semi will use multiple Model 3 engines in tandem to power the big rig semi trucks.

Source: Tesla

8. Shared Parts

Perhaps Tesla’s biggest advantage over other truck makers is that its Semi will share some core parts with its first mass-market car, the Model 3. Musk disclosed during an earnings call in May that the Semi uses “a bunch” of Model 3 motors, which sit in line with the truck’s axles. These relatively cheap electric motors will give the Semi unparalleled electric torque for getting quickly up to speed with a heavy load.

Tesla’s foray into commercial trucking is coming at an impossibly tough time for the company. The Model 3 is already months behind schedule, and Tesla is spending $1 billion a quarter to get things cranking.

But if Musk can get Model 3 production lines up to their promised rates, and the motors and battery cells are truly interchangeable between the Semi and the new passenger car, the scale of those operations would be profound. While traditional diesel truck makers are testing truck-suitable electric motors by the hundreds, Tesla could be making them by the hundreds of thousands—even before its first big rig hits the road.

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Tesla shares have been on the downtrend since mid-September...

So this event could be just what Musk needs to turn things around and distract investors from the massive cash burn the company is suffering while hand-making Model 3s...


Gap Admirer jmack Thu, 11/16/2017 - 23:03 Permalink

220 mile range. What's the average haul distance for an 18 wheeler?  And how long does this thing have to be plugged in before getting to return?I can see electric working well for UPS/FedEx delivery trucks in town.  Drive 100 to 150 miles all day, recharge overnight, repeat.  But an 18 wheeler?

In reply to by jmack

GUS100CORRINA Hal n back Fri, 11/17/2017 - 00:45 Permalink

Observation: This whole EV mania comes down to the answer of one single question:What is the TOTAL COST of OWNERSHIP per mile which wouild include initial investment (cost to purchase plus government subsidies) plus ongoing expenses?I think one will find that the answer to this question will be the determining factor as to whether or not the EV technlogy is viable with all the POLITICS and BULLSHIT aside.

In reply to by Hal n back

Pinto Currency in4mayshun Fri, 11/17/2017 - 03:08 Permalink

Battery operated electrical vehicles will only capture a small fraction of the market - Tesla has made a losing bet.They cannot get away from the fact that due to line and generation losses, only ~5% of hydrocarbon energy used to generate electricity is converted into motion.Doesn't matter how fantastic the batteries are, the losses producting and transporting the electrical energy to the battery are fixed. Watch fuel cells - a reformer in the garage can produce compressed hydrogen from nat gas and trillions will not be needed to be spent on the electrical grid.

In reply to by in4mayshun

TheRedScourge Pinto Currency Fri, 11/17/2017 - 03:26 Permalink

Fuel cell tech would be great if it didn't make the car cost $250,000As for the power grid and 5%, haven't you noticed that only 5% of gasoline's energy is converted into forward motion, and that Tesla bought Solarcity, so they can generate power wherever it's needed and deliver it straight to the car, rather than send it hundreds of miles down a wire? Not saying Tesla can do no wrong, just saying your arguments against it are pitiful.

In reply to by Pinto Currency

Moe Hamhead Pinto Currency Fri, 11/17/2017 - 06:40 Permalink

The Bloomberg table above doesn't account fact the fact that "total weight" for trucks is regulated.  I can already imagine them parked at the state-line scales, waiting for the relief truck to unload that extra cargo.  The payback metrics don't include "reduced payload" from the batteries. That said, I would welcome them in our neighborhood as FedEx delivery vans, replacing the noisy diesels they have now.

In reply to by Pinto Currency

fattail Moe Hamhead Fri, 11/17/2017 - 07:02 Permalink

It really will only take the adoption of a small amount of electric vehicles, maybe 5-10%, and it will tank the energy markets.  It seems that the cash grab in Saudi Arabia may be the first evidence that the muslim dictators of the world have done the math.I personally relish the idea of the death of the petro dollar if it destroys the people who sell oil.

In reply to by Moe Hamhead

kellys_eye Bobportlandor Fri, 11/17/2017 - 02:35 Permalink

Give those trucks enough battery power to get to the nearest train station and on to the back of a rail car.  That's the only way they'll get diesel-equivalent mileage out of them.Tesla road mileage claims against REAL WORLD mileage differ by up to 60% - I have no reason to doubt trucks will be the same.As for maintenacne costs.... ONE dud battery and you're bust.

In reply to by Bobportlandor

not dead yet Solosides Fri, 11/17/2017 - 06:23 Permalink

Full load, including the weight of the big rig truck and tractor, is 80,000 lbs. A battery in a Tesla S is around 1200 lbs and 2 of these would be more than the weight of the drivetrain and 100 gallons of fuel in a diesel rig. With a Model S battery going for $10,000 one could guess the rig would need 10 of them, if they are correct in the $100,000 pricing, and multiple motors needed the Tesla rig would be much heavier and would cut the payload by at least 10 to 15 thousand lbs. A deal killer. Very small profit margins in trucking and going electric will need huge outlays of cash. Unless the government mandates truck stops put in chargers, which they won't on their own until lots of rigs are on the road, charging will be a problem. Battery switch at truck stops is a non starter due to the investment and no long haul trucker is going to take the chance of getting someone elses shot battery. Trailers that go on rail cars are delivered by truckers, not the railroad, to and from the rail yard, so the railroad puts seals on the tires and usually paint because truckers would steal the good tires and put junkers on. Those with bad batteries would love to get yours in exchange. The real killer would be the government would finally wake up to the fact that electrics pay no road use taxes and would put levies on all electrics, car or truck, to make up for lost revenue which would eat up most or all the so called savings. Due to the liability factor of who pays for damaged or stolen freight there will be no driverless trucks as hijacking will become rampant without a driver. Where you can make out is a one driver can operate a truck 24/7 and only stop for fuel and food.Besides the government handouts and overpriced stock, Tesla has been able to stay in business due to investments by Toyota and Panasonic and others. Besides cash Toyota supposedly gave Tesla the Fremont plant for free. It's Panasonic technology for the batteries, which Tesla gets the credit for, and it's Panasonic that's put in bucks for the battery plant and supervised it's construction. You can bet any original loans or bond issue for the battery plant had Panasonic guarantee them. The State of New York built a plant, for free, for Solar City where Panasonic is going to build their own solar panels as Solar City doesn't have the money or the expertise to build panels on their own. Point is the electric truck is going to need a huge investment of cash and they don't have any experience building this kind of vehicle. Tesla can't even get cars built which means it won't happen unless they get an experienced big rig partner. 

In reply to by Solosides

effendi not dead yet Fri, 11/17/2017 - 11:00 Permalink

The increased weight of an electric truck reducing the tonnage of cargo is only important for certain cargoes. Many (perhaps the majority) of cargoes are well under the maximum permissable load (never seen a Fedex truck busting its suspension). So the rollout of electric trucks will start with companies that have lighter products (everything from farm produce such as lettuce and broccoli to manufactured goods such as toilet paper) and shorter routes. Might only ever be a niche market but even that might be a few hundred thousand trucks/year in the US, Europe, Japan etc.

In reply to by not dead yet

RockySpears TheRedScourge Fri, 11/17/2017 - 04:17 Permalink

Solar City????  Are you serious?  Do you know how big a solar panel you would need for just a single truck recharge?No, solar is no answer, especially at night or on a cloudy day, or the panels have snow/dew on them,Power distribution is the killer for EV at the moment.Now, if you can get small, nuclear stations at each refuel point, you may have something, RS

In reply to by TheRedScourge

EddieLomax Just Another V… Fri, 11/17/2017 - 04:16 Permalink

Solid cell batteries seems like the killer solution, Dyson have gone all in on it so they must honestly believe their money is well spent.  There are some hitches though in that the academics have said its at least 5 years from market and the construction involved thin film depositing, so an extremely slow manufacture process which needs to be made fast and cheap to produce an affordable battery.Otherwise I'd see these in small portable devices, or big military ones.

In reply to by Just Another V…

mkkby MK13 Fri, 11/17/2017 - 15:14 Permalink

Meanwhile toyota quietly makes boatloads of cash selling the highly reliable prius for 1/3 the price. Those smart japs realized 20 years that full electric was a long way off. My money will be on them in 10-20 years when full electrics MIGHT start to make sense.

For those of you planning on spending north of $80k for a tesla... YOU'VE BEEN MUSKED.

In reply to by MK13

not dead yet jimmy12345 Fri, 11/17/2017 - 06:43 Permalink

The other automakers weren't making any because there is no market for electrics. Take your time and when the market is there you're ready. Plus we don't know how many cars Tesla really sells. Musko said they were going to decrease the S and X production by 10% to put people on the 3 line. If you really had the orders why shaft even more customers. Plus, and no one caught this, Musk said the 10% reduction would help decrease the inventory. Tesla claims they don't build stock but Musk admitted they did. So how many of those in transit to customer vehicles that Musk claimed at the end of previous quarters were really unsold stock. Just like a year ago to meet sales, that Musk claimed were booming, Tesla offered strippo models with a price reduction. If the sales were there this would not be necessary. Same as when a few months back Tesla lowered their prices claiming production efficiencies. If that was true and the sales were booming a real business person would not lower the price as Tesla needs every buck it can get.

In reply to by jimmy12345

True Blue Gap Admirer Fri, 11/17/2017 - 01:21 Permalink

I shouldn't even say this, but if you buy the vehicle and pay a massive core deposit on the batteries, it would keep the initial sticker cost down. Then, it would make sense to partner somebody like T&A or another major truck stop franchise to simply change out the batteries with fresh ones instead of recharging as if you were refueling. I'd build the batteries on a wheeled rack that lowers to the ground and is wheeled away and the replacement is wheeled in and installed in 2 minutes flat, or the 'driver' parks on something like a set of scales and some autonomous system changes them out.
I wonder if the trailer is powered too?

In reply to by Gap Admirer

not dead yet True Blue Fri, 11/17/2017 - 07:03 Permalink

I get it. Walmart will carry the batteries and sell them 3 for dollar so the truckers can load up on them. At 100 grand a pop no truck stop is going to stock any and no trucker is going to want to get someone elses junk battery. Do you think the trucking companies are going to spring for a bunch of extra batteries for each truck and spread them around truck stops. Unless the government mandates it no truck stop is going to put in chargers, or battery swap equipment until a bunch of rigs are on the road. Or do the trucking companies spring for the chargers and swap equipment at the truck stops which would kill the deal.

In reply to by True Blue

effendi not dead yet Fri, 11/17/2017 - 11:11 Permalink

Nothing stopping the bigger freight companies having their own depots every few hundred miles and swapping their own batteries. System worked for Cobb & Co with stagecoach horse teams or the Pony Express for fresh mounts. Easy to recharge spare batteries overnight (excess cheap off-peak power from conventional sources) or from whenever the wind is blowing hard and the power is cheap. Walmart might even have recharging equipment at their distribution centres and stores loading docks to top up trucks when they are being unloaded.

In reply to by not dead yet